The Milwaukee Bucks' tumultuous regular season has come to an end, and now they can turn their attention to the Indiana Pacers in the first round of the NBA playoffs, which began this weekend. But the Bucks suffered a massive blow late in the season when their superstar, Giannis Antetokounmpo, went down with a scary injury, which sidelined him for the remainder of the regular season and landed him on the injury report before Game 1 of the playoffs. So is Giannis Antetokounmpo playing tonight vs. Pacers?

On April 9, during a home game against the Boston Celtics, Antetokounmpo suffered a non-contact, lower-leg injury that some were fearful was an Achilles tendon tear. Fortunately, tests determined Antetokounmpo did not sustain an injury to his Achilles tendon but rather a strain of the soleus muscle in his left calf. While good news, the injury seemed to be rather painful for Antetokounmpo, who immediately left the game and did not suit up for the final three games of the season.

So let's get to the heart of the matter: Is Giannis Antetokounmpo playing tonight vs. Pacers?

Giannis Antetokounmpo injury status vs. Pacers in Game 1

Milwaukee Bucks player Giannis Antetokounmpo

Giannis Antetokounmpo was initially listed on the NBA injury report as “doubtful” for Game 1 of the Milwaukee Bucks and Indiana Pacers' first-round playoff series, which hinted he was very unlikely to play.

Sure enough, he was eventually ruled out a couple of hours prior to tip-off.

At the time of his injury, it was reported that the Bucks would hold Antetokounmpo out for the rest of the regular season and continue to help him progress in hopes he would be able to return in time for the playoffs. The more realistic scenario is the one in which we're living; that it would take Antetokounmpo at least a few games into the first-round series before he is ready to suit up for the Bucks again. Damian Lillard, Antetokounmpo's star teammate, said he suffered the very same injury last season and that it took him a few weeks to recover from what he described as a painful injury and begin to feel normal again.

There is also ever a concern that pushing Antetokounmpo, the face of the Bucks franchise, past his limits could result in even greater and catastrophic injuries. While a championship in 2024 is certainly the goal for Milwaukee, the Bucks cannot afford to lose Antetokounmpo, who signed a three-year, $176 million extension that keeps him under contract with the Bucks until at least 2027, for any time past this season.

Despite high pre-season expectations following the acquisition of Lillard from the Portland Trail Blazers in the offseason and stellar individual play by Antetokounmpo, the 2023-24 campaign has been a mess for the Bucks, who fired first-year head coach Adrian Griffin 43 games into the season and replaced him with longtime NBA coach Doc Rivers in January. With Rivers at the helm, the Bucks went 17-19 and slotted into the No. 3 seed in the Eastern Conference.

If the regular season is any indication, the Pacers serve as a tough matchup for the Bucks, especially with Antetokounmpo not playing.